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Are Cowboy Boots Bad for Your Knees?

Are Cowboy Boots Bad for Your Knees?

Cowboy boots are wonderful footwear known for their safety, flexibility, comfort, and durability with an eye-catching appearance.

With a history of more than two centuries, cowboy boots are growing and asserting their class on the market. However, besides the compliments, there are also complaints about cowboy boots.

One of the users’ concerns is knee pain: “I have knee pain when I wear cowboy boots”, “Are cowboy boots bad for your knees? “, etc.

How to handle knee pain when wearing cowboy boots? Let’s find out the answers with us!

Key takeaways:

1. Mind the Heel Height:

Stick to heels between 1 and 1.5 inches for better knee stability. Higher heels can increase knee pressure and cause discomfort.

2. Ensure the Right Fit:

A proper fit is crucial. Boots that are too tight can alter your walking stride and lead to knee pain.

Make sure there’s enough room for your toes and your heel has a little play.

3. Consider the Boot’s Weight:

Heavier boots can strain your ankles, knees, and hips. Opt for lighter materials and simpler designs for daily wear.

4. Seek Medical Advice if Needed:

If knee pain persists despite these precautions, consult a healthcare professional to rule out any underlying health issues.

Are Cowboy Boots Bad for Your Knees?

Foot health is always the paramount issue no matter what types of footwear you’re using.

  • The answer is: cowboy boots can hurt your knees and the pain level depends on the height of the heels and arch support of each cowboy boot.
  • The fact is: with every 1 inch higher of the heel of a boot (here is a cowboy boot), your knee is subjected to 23% more compression pressure.

The heels of cowboy boots come in different heights. We divide them into three categories: high heels, standard heels, and low heels.

For standard and low-heeled cowboy boots, the heel height is between 1 inch and 1.5 inches. This is the ideal height to keep your knees completely stable and not cause any pain.

A woman wears jeans with cowboy boots on the ranch

Cowboy Boots with Standard Heels

If your cowboy boot heels have a standard height or lower but you still feel knee pain when wearing them, the cause is probably not your cowboy boots. In this case, you need to see a doctor to find out the problem.

The heels of cowboy boots between 1 inch and 1.5 inches tall are often called walking heels or roper heels. These heels are common in western work boots, roper boots, stockman boots… These are cowboy boots that support your feet very well when you walk and move.

For example, western work boots have walking heels and good arch support. This is the most comfortable cowboy boots for you to do outdoor activities or work in a ranch and farm.

If your cowboy boots have heels 2 inches or more in height, there is a chance that they could hurt your knees if you use them incorrectly.

Are cowboy boots bad for your knees

As we mentioned above, with every inch of the heel, your knee will suffer 23% more compression pressure, which is not good for your knee.

Cowboy boots with standard 1.5-inch heels won’t harm your knees, but heels with 2 inches or more can affect your knees.

A woman wears snakeskin cowboy boots with pink dress

Fashion Cowboy Boots with High Heels

Notably, fashion heels or spiked heels have a height of over 2.75 inches. You should consider when using cowboy boots with these high heels.

Wearing cowboy boots with heels higher than 2.75 inches regularly will increase pressure on the knees and heels.

In the long term, this will erode the knee joint, damage joint cartilage, and lead to arthritis (the erosion of cartilage between bones, causing bones to rub together).

Besides fashion heels or spiked heels, there are quite a few cowboy boots with heels higher than 2.75 inches.

How to avoid Knee Pain when wearing High Heeled Cowboy Boots?

The answer is that you should stop wearing cowboy boots until the pain in your knees is gone. Remember to use cowboy boots exactly the way they are meant to serve.

Usually, people like to wear cowboy boots with high heels because these boots give the wearer the confidence and arrogance of a real cowboy. Besides, traditional cowboy boots have high heels to help them balance and stabilize on the saddle.

This means that cowboys don’t really walk much (they were on horseback), so traditional cowboy boots (high heels) actually don’t give walkers the best support.

If you plan to wear cowboy boots for walking, heavy work, outdoor activities (picnic, mountain climbing, hiking…), you should choose cowboy boots with walking heels (about 1.5 inch high heels) to have the best support.

If you drive a lot, or wear cowboy boots for fashion or don’t plan on wearing cowboy boots all day long, then you can opt for high heeled cowboy boots.

Not only cowboy boots, you should also avoid using high heel shoes to work on the ranch since they can affect your leg health.

So use the right cowboy boots for the right purposes, they won’t hurt your knees.

Read more: Are Cowboy Boots Bad For Your Feet?

Man and woman wear cowboy boots with different type of toe shape

The Fit and Weight of Cowboy Boots

Let’s talk about the fit of your boots. You know, just like a cowboy hat has to sit just right on your head, your boots need to fit your feet perfectly.

When cowboy boots are too tight, your natural walking stride is altered. Instead of a smooth roll from heel to toe, you might find yourself walking more rigidly to avoid discomfort.

This unnatural gait puts extra stress on your knees as they compensate for the imbalance. Over time, what seemed like a minor issue in fit can lead to persistent knee pain.

You choose a pair of cowboy boots that fit just right – snug, but not tight, with enough room to wiggle your toes and no pinching anywhere.

The heels fit securely, but they don’t slip. As you walk, your feet move comfortably, allowing for a natural stride.

The result? Your knees aren’t strained by an awkward gait, and you can wear your boots for longer periods without discomfort.

Read the Size and Fit guide of Cowboy Boots here:

A woman wears skinny jeans with cowboy boots

When considering cowboy boots, their weight is a key factor often overlooked, yet it plays a significant role in overall comfort, especially for the knees.

Cowboy boots vary in weight due to differences in materials, construction, and design.

On average, a pair of cowboy boots can weigh between 3 to 5 pounds, with some heavier styles reaching up to 6 pounds or more.

This weight, primarily due to sturdy leather and decorative elements, can add significant strain to your feet, ankles, and knees, especially with prolonged wear.

Heavier boots can lead to fatigue and discomfort, as your legs and feet work harder to support and move the extra weight.

This strain can exacerbate knee pain, particularly in individuals with existing knee issues or those who spend a lot of time on their feet.

For everyday, casual wear, it’s advisable to opt for lightweight cowboy boots. Styles like the Roper or Ankle cowboy boots are excellent choices.

These styles typically feature a shorter shaft, lower heel, and often use lighter materials, reducing the overall weight of the boot.

A man wears The Earl Cowboy Boots

Image copyright Tecovas Boot Company | #CommissionEarned | The Earl Roper Boots

This makes them more comfortable for extended wear and less taxing on your knees.

Conversely, classic tall cowboy boots, often heavier and more ornate, are better suited for special occasions rather than daily use.

These boots, while stylish and traditional, can add unnecessary strain on your knees if worn frequently or for long periods.

By reserving these heavier boots for special events, you reduce the risk of knee discomfort while still enjoying the classic cowboy aesthetic.

And remember, if you’re still feeling knee pain even with the perfect heel height and fit, it might be worth checking in with a doc.

Sometimes, it’s not just about the boots, but something else going on with your health.

Some notes

  • You should not wear cowboy boots with high heels continuously for a long time (especially with heels higher than 2.75 inches)
  • Consider carefully when using cowboy boots with heels higher than 2.75 inches
  • Choose the right size of cowboy boots for your feet. This is important, we have a very thorough size guide here!
  • When removing a high heeled cowboy boot, you should use your hands to massage the entire soles of the feet to improve blood circulation. Soaking your feet in warm water for 20-30 minutes is also a good help.
  • Change your exercise routine: reduce regular stress in your knees, hips, and back during exercises
  • Using extra insoles may reduce the negative impact on the knees


A Man and women wear cowboy boots with different heel height.

To wrap things up, the key to enjoying your cowboy boots without knee pain lies in three simple factors: choosing the right heel height, ensuring a proper fit, and considering the boot’s weight.

By selecting styles that are kind to your knees for everyday wear, like the lighter Roper or Ankle boots, and saving the classic, taller designs for special occasions, you can enjoy both the style and comfort of your boots.

Remember, a little attention to these details can go a long way in keeping your knees happy in your cowboy adventures!